"Eternal Spring" CD
Genres: lo-fi, indie pop
Jul 26 - Aug 1 2004
There's something about Japanese indie pop that very few can
resist. Perhaps its the music's simple melodic charm, or its
breezy innocence - or possibly just its relative obscurity for North
American fans. But, regardless of the source of its appeal, I
couldn't suppress a smile as I pulled The Penelopes' Eternal
Spring out of the stack and gave it a listen.
Upon first encounter, this disc may seem a bit too light for most
listeners - Penelopes mastermind Tasuhiko Watanabe works
in soft pop territory, combining light, cheery guitars and playful
vocals to create a very twee-esque sound. Many of his songs are
really catchy, though a few just sound flat. "Let's Get
Going Again," for example, is pure sixties, but its zippy
atmosphere doesn't work well under Eternal Spring's lo-fi
production values. On the other hand, a tune like "From
Head To Toe" succeeds because of a loose, downtrodden structure
that fits well within Watanabe's recording parameters.
There are many more pleasing moments on Eternal Spring, most
of which will thrill fans of Japanese lo-fi music. "Book of
Brilliant Stings" is light and dreamy, "Love Is" could
be mistaken for an early Air Supply demo, and "Mrs. Meadow
Rue" is a bubbly, rock-opera-esque pop number. The
initially pleasant "Midday Stars" and "Carnival of
Slight" can become a bit tiresome after multiple listens, but
it's all "Spilt Milk" in the end.
Despite its occasional vapid moments, Eternal Spring is a
successful release for Watanabe and friends; its breezy,
eternally happy approach won't fail to charm its target audience.
[Vitals: 15 tracks, distributed by the
label, released 2003]